Cherry pickers and zoom booms

A while back, Kerry Clare asked in the comments how the lightbulbs in the flood-like lights towering above indoor pools are changed, and ever since I haven't been able to stop wondering (Yes, breastfeeding at 4am is a perfect time to obsess over those damn light bulbs, thanks for asking!)

So I finally asked a lifeguard! And he knew! And then I followed up with my all-knowing pool/swimming source, Coach Dave...

Cherry pickers, scissor lifts and/or "zoom booms" (telescopic forklift-y things).

They bring them in from outside and drive them on the deck (how this happens, I'm not sure, but apparently much of this equipment is max. 6 feet wide, so maybe they get in through double doors?)

AND, they have to close the pool, and sometimes even drain it, for fear of falling/broken glass!

Tada! Mystery solved!
  • Lindsay
  • Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Swimming + pregnancy + bed rest lite

Even though I love swimming, when people talk about the joys of swimming while pregnant, I always wonder if these women swam-swam before they were pregnant or if they're talking about bobbing in the slow lane. I mean, the weightless thing is great, and though it is still my favourite thing to do pregnant or not, for me swimming pregnant is definitely more challenging.

Before I was even showing, my abs stopped working, muscles I never really considered while swimming. But just weeks in, I kept crashing into the lane ropes and had to really work to swim in a straight line.

Then of course there was the ever tightening swimsuit situation. I kept my suit from my last pregnancy (that was already on its last legs) but had made the mistake of leaving it in the sunroom over the winter so the elastic in the straps had gone brittle. (The trick was wearing a bikini top underneath!) I probably should've bitten the bullet early on and bought a maternity suit, but I couldn't justify spending money on something I'd wear for such a limited time (and all the maternity suits seem to be more for lounging then for a swim-swimming anyway!) My swimming ladies banded together and got me a new suit for a baby shower gift (um, BEST!) and I am so thrilled to retire that poor old suit once and for all!

I should also add that I was nauseous for seven months and though getting to the pool wasn't easy, swimming was the only time that I didn't feel hungover and carsick all at once. An hour of respite = heaven.

After that horrible seven months wrapped up, this pregnancy kept dishing out surprises. With a hernia and crazy loose joints that kept me on bed rest lite, swimming (and biking strangely enough!) were the only things I could do that weren't horizontal. Swimming was my salvation and I'm truly not sure how I could've made it through without it.

It was a strange and bizarre thing to swim with intense Braxton Hicks contractions or having to stop and shove my baby's foot in from under my ribs in the deep end, but it was so liberating and so glorious to be able to move, and feel my muscles tire. 

Of course my suit got tighter and tighter, literally splitting at the seams to accommodate my growing belly. I'd get raised eyebrows every time I got in the fast lane, and I can't tell you how rewarding it was to still be able to keep up...ish.

I have never been a stand around chatting in the shallow end swimmer (I figure if I'm already at the pool I need to maximize my time swimming!). But I became a stander around in the shallow end, waiting for Braxton Hicks contractions to let up, or waiting for the baby to settle, making small talk the other standarounders. And I met some lovely folks - the elderly gentleman who had had a stroke who had been told by the lifeguards he didn't belong in the fast lane until he kicked all of our asses, giving me a conspiratorial wink that made my week; and another pregnant woman who was due in August; and a woman with spiky red hair who told me that I might not believe that swimming was the highlight of her day. I told her I did believe it because it was also mine.

I swam the day before I had my little girl - chuckling at the wide-eyed belly stare I got from every patron and lifeguard - and am now counting down the days till I can be back in the water. Countdown: 29 days!
  • Lindsay
  • Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The long countdown to summer swimming

What's a swimmer to do when the snow flies and the winds whip below zero? (Well, if I was Jessica J. Lee, I'd bring a hammer to the lake and swim anyway, and if I was Rhya, I'd run straight into the water, but I am decidedly not either of them. I am a cold water wimp!) Winters are long in Canada for us outdoor swimming lovers.

Last Saturday was cold, and the morning started *very* early around here, but the sun was shining, so we headed east to the beach and the lake and to check out this year's Winter Warming Stations. The sand was sprinkled with snow, but the sun shone off Lake Ontario in brilliant shards. It was so beautiful.

My favourite installation was Collective Memory – bottles stacked on top of each other, with pens and paper for participants to add their own stories to the wall. (Letter writing?! Anonymous collective participation? Be still my beating heart!)

I also loved buoybuoybuoy – so many blues, the lake's, the sky's, reflected in the oval mirrors. 

How I love standing on the beach where the lake looks like an ocean...the countdown to summer swimming is ON!

ps: Check out last year's winter warming station adventure!
  • Lindsay
  • Thursday, March 9, 2017

Polar Bear Dip - Into the Abyss

On January 1st at 12pm, under the icy rays of a winter sun, I dove into Lake Ontario and a new year.
  • It was 3 degrees Celsius (that’s 37.4 Fahrenheit)
  • It was cold.
  • It was blue.
  • And it kick-started my spirit. 

Looking out at the lake that morning, its surface glimmering, as though it was somehow floating millions of tiny diamonds towards our shivering skins, I felt giddy and had a nervous smile that could not be calmed.

Some how water looks richer in the winter, before the ice and snow capture it for their own.

So why the dip? Why jump into ice cold water on the morning of New Year’s Day, when I could have just stayed home bundled up and enjoying some family time:

1. The Polar Bear Dip is for a good cause, the money raised for this event goes towards Habitat for Humanity.

2. After an incredible year of swimming in 2016 —momentous swimming, full of adventures and beautiful swim holes —I wanted to continue that trend into 2017. I wanted to start the year in water, and not just a pool, a big body of water. I wanted to start my year by jumping into something grand. The intention was to run, leap or just flop into the abyss… and see what happens, with a smile and a shout!

3. Maybe there is a tiny part of me that just likes a good old fashioned adrenaline rush.

The Toronto Polar Bear dip takes place once a year at Sunnyside Beach. Swimmers or Dippers, I suppose, begin to gather on the beach around 11am to stake out their spots, by laying out blankets with all their extra warm gear at the ready. The actual dip happens an hour later at noon.
Me, and the my team of supporters (my husband Kyle, daughter Nomi and sister Kaurel and her little one, Lila) showed up early. I registered and got my super cool Polar Bear toque. Then we waited in the crowd of over 600 dippers for noon to arrive. There was classic rock, people in hilarious costumes (ahem, a gang of bearded men in pink tutus and g-strings… EPIC), and lots of puffy winter coats covering up swim suits of all sorts.

At noon, they gathered us together on a section of the beach that had been cornered off with some tape. I was standing beside a father daughter duo who had done the dip the previous year. They told me that the year before it had been freezing rain and was so miserable out and that we were very lucky to have such a great day this year. Sun and relatively little wind. They were also discussing their “entry strategies”, would they run, would they walk, would they walk half way and then just throw themselves in? It was all up for debate.

Then the countdown started.

And then I was running with a crowd of many towards the shimmering water! My entry was a run, and a flop. I’d like to think it was a dive, but it was flop. I went right under, it was sharp and invigorating. It woke me up. The adrenaline froze in my veins. And then just like that, I was running out of the water and towards my warm clothes on the beach.

I was probably in the water for maybe a 1 minute total. But it was awesome. I loved the freeze, I loved the crowd and the excitement. And I loved that the start of 2017 was spent in a beautiful body of water! Huzzah!

Now someone get me to a sauna!

So here are my takeaways…
1. Arriving at 11am, though I had a very quick registration process and snagged some prime real estate on the beach for my stuff, was kind of not so great… because I had an hour to wait in the cold. It would have been fine to come a little later and stay a little warmer.

2. Wear lots of warm loose clothing and make sure to bring some kind of large moo-moo style outfit to change under after.
3. Swim shoes are a really good idea!
4. On that note, don’t make the mistake I made and wear socks in your swim shoes. You have to wear swim shoes because the bottom of the lake is mostly stone, so it’s nicer on your feet. I thought I would keep my socks on, because it was just so cold. BIG MISTAKE! When I got out of the water, the cold socks just retained the chill and my feet were like Popsicles. Just take them off. Trust me. Go in with you suit and shoes ONLY! I should note that I also jumped in with a toque, that was okay because I could take it off right away.

5. Have a thermos of hot chocolate or coffee ready to go.

6. Cheering squads are pretty nice to have!

7. However you decide to get in… go all the way… dunk that head and wake up! It’s worth it.

  • Rhya
  • Friday, February 3, 2017

Swimming Bingo: The Indoor Edition

Though we three swimmers are already counting down the days till summer swimming, there are still many winter dips to be had. If you're hardcore like Jessica, you've got your toque and hammer and hop in no matter how much ice is in your way, and if you're a cold water wimp like me, there's always the pool.

And now you can play SWIMMING BINGO along with me and celebrate all of the inevitable pool mishaps and delights! Download your Swimming Bingo card here!!

  • Lindsay
  • Wednesday, January 11, 2017

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